Beans Beans the Magical Fruit

Today is Harrison’s last day of kindergarten. Funny, I think I’m sadder that kindergarten is over than I was that it started. Instead of, “Oh, my baby’s gone!” I’m now feeling like, “Great. The kid’s coming home.”

I am pleased to announce, however, that thanks to something I heard on Dr. Laura last week I have revamped an old parenting plan with phenomenal results. (This is not a show I usually listen to. She sometimes makes me want to take a toothpick to my eyeballs. Come on, like people who are in love can go years without getting married or having sex? ┬áIt’s one or the other, baby, and don’t I know it. She’s never practiced it and she has no clue what she’s talking about.)

So anyway, she’s reading this email from a mom who does a point system with her kids. They get points for all sorts of good behavior, and at the end of the week, if they’ve earned 20 points, they get one hour of Mom Time–she plays with them, whatever they want to play, for an entire hour (which we all know would be better exercise than a two hour kick boxing class).

A few years back a girlfriend told me about their family Bean Jar. Anytime her kids worked together to behave well, they got beans in the jar. If EVERYONE got their shoes on in time, they got beans. If the little kids were quiet and let the bigger ones practice piano, they got beans. It was a group effort and really encouraged her kids to get along.

Putting the two together, on Sunday I introduced Harrison to his new Bean Jar. When he says, “Yes Mom!” with a smile, or sighs and says, “Okay, Mom” when he’d rather throw his little self on the floor and kick and scream, or when he refrains from pummeling his little slap happy brother (who regularly abuses him) and instead let’s me give Rex a time-out…you get the picture. He gets beans. Lots and lots of beans.

The reward? When the jar is full, I’m giving him a cheap (Dave Ramsey would be so proud) reward. One hour of play time with me that includes a water balloon fight.

Lucky for me, it takes almost an hour to fill enough water balloons to be worth anything, so by the time they’re all tossed, I’ll be finished. Cause I’m sneaky like that.

But the point is, I now have an angel living in my house. For an entire week he has graced my demands with “Yes Mom!” and “Okay.” Of course, each kind response he dishes is followed by a hopeful, “Beans? Two handfuls this time?” I’m serious, he’s turned into such a polite, willing young man who fanatically watches the level on his bean jar rise.

Now, if only I could train the rest of them. Do you think June would behave if I offered an hour of unsupervised toilet water play time?


  1. Oh great – NOW you tell me about this. Where were you with this idea YESTERDAY when I was filling up water balloons for an hour? Plllllbttttt.

  2. What a smart idea! I think I might have to rip it off…

  3. Well, you are awesome. I want a bean jar!

  4. Great idea! I work at a daycare where we do the same sort of thing, (we use stickers) you would think I’d be smart enough to do it at home, but no… I’m tired.

  5. You’re an evil genius!

  6. That is a great idea! I’m using this one for the summer for sure.

  7. This is what teachers do at school to get kids to cooperate. I too have seen it work there but never used it at home. Thanks for the idea, but will it work on an 18 year old?

  8. Hilarious! My Mom did something similar when I was growing up…of course there were 10 kids, so she HAD to try something to keep us all in line. our bean jars had a little lable that said, “I’ve ‘bean’ good” and we had a “bean” bartering system. 5 beans, you could watch 30 minutes of TV, 5 more beans, you could play video games for 15 minutes, etc, You get the point. Of course, she didn’t dole the beans out by the handful…we got them one by one…so that 30 minutes of TV? Hard to come by!

  9. I’d like my own bean jar, one that I could fill whenever I’ve been good, and I’d fill it with money instead of beans and I’d reward myself with an hour with myself.

  10. I have been trying this for the last 3 hours. It is totally working and he is so excited about saying ‘yes mom.’ This idea came at exactly the right time as I have just been beating my head against the wall about the lack of ‘yes moms’ around my house.

    Back on track baby.

  11. annie valentine says:

    I have to tell you I just bought a water balloon sling shot ($2.49) to surprise Harrison with. We’re an inch from the top and he’s practically peeing his pants in anticipation.

  12. I started to tear up as I picked my daughter up on her last day of Kindergarten. (It was pretty pathetic.)
    Your bean idea is good. We use the duct tape method – – as the kids act up they get more and more duct tape attaching them to the wall. The first piece is always for their mouth, of course. And the kids usually stop freaking out before covering all of their airways with the tape. It’s a pretty good method. I’m sure Dr Laura would be proud.

  13. Love the idea!!! I wonder what would work on grown up kids so they won’t roll their eyes when you ask them to do something for the 50th time, and they answer with….I know, you already told me. My retort….then why isn’t it done? (It isn’t working.)

  14. Why didn’t I know about BEANS when I was raising 5 kids —I JUST BEAT THEM. it worked (tee,hee) about graduating from kindergarten, my mom always said she’d snicker when moms would “cry” when taking their little ones to school ..MY mom said she’d “cry” when they came home. Hmmmmm.
    Hey, I am off to the great white north for awhile, so I’ll check on you when I get back my friend –unless I get ate by a bear, and that would suck

  15. You had me at an hour unsupervised toilet time. Oh shoot, that was the end. Anyway, good idea. I need something for the Pea.

  16. Great plan. Maybe the bean is the new time-out.

  17. Bribery works at any age.